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Carl Nielsen

The life and work of Carl Nielsen, Denmark's most famous composer.

Donald concentrates on how Nielsen met his first wife on his travels through Europe and got public recognition - for both his maiden symphony and first choral work, A Hymn to Love. Marie's pursuit of her own career as a sculptor kept her away from home for months at a time, leaving the composer to face life-changing decisions on his own. In spite of professional setbacks and a variety of health scares, he continued to compose and in 1906 produced Maskarade, a comic opera about the pleasures and perils of masked balls.

He discusses Nielsen's relationship with the Royal Theatre, affected by his attempt to gain recognition as a conductor there. But h is work as composer for the stage was constantly in demand and while he was still a violinist with the Theatre Orchestra, he wrote the first of his two operas. In 1914, after his resignation as conductor at the Royal Theatre, Nielsen's conducting career wasn't going so well. Things began to look up when he was offered work in Sweden and appointed conductor of Copenhagen's Philharmonic Orchestra. His personal life was in crisis, too - his wife had asked for a legal separation, a situation which would last for the next eight years.

Six years before he died in 1931, Nielsen's sixtieth birthday was declared a national holiday in Denmark. The festivities held in his honour demonstrated the esteem with which he was held in his native land. But disillusionment with his lack of international success clouded his final years.

Release date:


54 minutes


Role Contributor
Composer Carl Nielsen

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